By Ely Schosek, SGI Student Reporter

Olivia Giammarco is a 15-year-old incoming sophomore at Springville GI High School. Olivia is also an equestrian. She spends a large majority of her time around horses, especially during her summer vacation.

Olivia has a 10-year-old quarter horse named Dodger, which Olivia and her mother adopted five years ago, soon after Olivia turned 10. When asked how long she has been riding, Olivia responded with, “Since I was in the womb” along with a small laugh.

At the age of seven, she started showing horses. There are three main types of competitions: western, English and games. Most horse owners choose to only train their horses in one category, but Olivia has been training Dodger so he is able to compete in all three types. Lots of different training is required for each, but Olivia is willing to put in the extra effort for her and her horse to succeed.

She completes chores on a daily basis, which include grooming Dodger and cleaning his stall, along with much more. Olivia works with Dodger to prepare him for various competitions as often as she can. She uses certain techniques to allow Dodger to complete different tasks in regard to his training. Some of these exercises include walking backwards or to the sides and moving clockwise versus counterclockwise around the arena.

There are three different levels in getting a horse to follow commands and directions: suggest, ask and demand. Dodger was not a trained horse when he was adopted out to them, and Olivia has worked hard over the years to train him along with some help from her mother.

“When you train your own horse, you can see a difference made by your hard work to build a relationship with them,” she said. “Hard work is the best tool you have.”

When asked how equestrian has impacted her overall life, Olivia stated, “It takes over my life,” with a small laugh. Her reasoning for stating this is the frequency of shows and competitions. Sometimes she will have a show every weekend, like this month.

These shows require a lot of preparation. She must ensure that both herself and Dodger are prepared.

“I think the amount of commitment it requires has impacted my overall work ethic, especially with my school work,” Olivia noted. Her commitment to her horses has helped her to succeed in school and maintain strong grades in all her classes.

Over the course of the past few years, Olivia has traveled to many different cities and towns both close to and far from Springville. She mainly travels to Irving, Eden and Marilla, but occasionally goes to Lockport and Little Valley for shows. Olivia has also been in some educational competitions at the State Fair, Cornell University and in Lockport. These educational competitions have helped her to increase her knowledge of horses and get to know her own horse better.

In order to earn money to purchase her equipment and gear, Olivia dog sits and teaches riding lessons for other kids. The main reason she began riding horses was that her mother had always ridden, so her love for horses is essentially a trait that she inherited.

After growing up around horses, her love for and interest in them has grown tremendously. “Putting in time to make a relationship with your horse is extremely beneficial,” Olivia stated when addressing the amount of time she has spent with her horse over the years.

Overall, Olivia has won many awards for her riding skills, but knows that these are not the most important part of being an equestrian. She knows that having a strong relationship with her horse is far more important than any awards she could win.